The Man With The Watches

There are many who will still bear in mind the singular

circumstances which, under the heading of the Rugby Mystery,

filled many columns of the daily Press in the spring of the year

1892. Coming as it did at a period of exceptional dullness, it

attracted perhaps rather more attention than it deserved, but it

offered to the public that mixture of the whimsical and the

tragic which is most stimulating to the popular ima

Interest drooped, however, when, after weeks of fruitless

investigation, it was found that no final explanation of the

facts was forthcoming, and the tragedy seemed from that time to

the present to have finally taken its place in the dark catalogue

of inexplicable and unexpiated crimes. A recent communication

(the authenticity of which appears to be above question) has,

however, thrown some new and clear light upon the matter. Before

laying it before the public it would be as well, perhaps, that I

should refresh their memories as to the singular facts upon which

this commentary is founded. These facts were briefly as follows:

At five o'clock on the evening of the 18th of March in the year

already mentioned a train left Euston Station for Manchester. It

was a rainy, squally day, which grew wilder as it progressed, so it

was by no means the weather in which anyone would travel who was

not driven to do so by necessity. The train, however, is a

favourite one among Manchester business men who are returning from

town, for it does the journey in four hours and twenty minutes,

with only three stoppages upon the way. In spite of the inclement

evening it was, therefore, fairly well filled upon the occasion of

which I speak. The guard of the train was a tried servant of the

company--a man who had worked for twenty-two years without a

blemish or complaint. His name was John Palmer.

The station clock was upon the stroke of five, and the guard

was about to give the customary signal to the engine-driver when he

observed two belated passengers hurrying down the platform. The

one was an exceptionally tall man, dressed in a long black overcoat

with astrakhan collar and cuffs. I have already said that the

evening was an inclement one, and the tall traveller had the high,

warm collar turned up to protect his throat against the bitter

March wind. He appeared, as far as the guard could judge by so

hurried an inspection, to be a man between fifty and sixty years of

age, who had retained a good deal of the vigour and activity of his

youth. In one hand he carried a brown leather Gladstone bag. His

companion was a lady, tall and erect, walking with a vigorous step

which outpaced the gentleman beside her. She wore a long, fawn-

coloured dust-cloak, a black, close-fitting toque, and a dark veil

which concealed the greater part of her face. The two might very

well have passed as father and daughter. They walked swiftly down

the line of carriages, glancing in at the windows, until the guard,

John Palmer, overtook them.

"Now then, sir, look sharp, the train is going," said he.

"First-class," the man answered.

The guard turned the handle of the nearest door. In the

carriage which he had opened, there sat a small man with a cigar in

his mouth. His appearance seems to have impressed itself upon the

guard's memory, for he was prepared, afterwards, to describe or to

identify him. He was a man of thirty-four or thirty-five years of

age, dressed in some grey material, sharp-nosed, alert, with a

ruddy, weather-beaten face, and a small, closely cropped, black

beard. He glanced up as the door was opened. The tall man paused

with his foot upon the step.

"This is a smoking compartment. The lady dislikes smoke," said

he, looking round at the guard.

"All right! Here you are, sir!" said John Palmer. He slammed

the door of the smoking carriage, opened that of the next one,

which was empty, and thrust the two travellers in. At the same

moment he sounded his whistle and the wheels of the train began to

move. The man with the cigar was at the window of his carriage,

and said something to the guard as he rolled past him, but the

words were lost in the bustle of the departure. Palmer

stepped into the guard's van, as it came up to him, and

thought no more of the incident.

Twelve minutes after its departure the train reached Willesden

Junction, where it stopped for a very short interval. An

examination of the tickets has made it certain that no one either

joined or left it at this time, and no passenger was seen to alight

upon the platform. At 5:14 the journey to Manchester was resumed,

and Rugby was reached at 6:50, the express being five minutes late.

At Rugby the attention of the station officials was drawn to

the fact that the door of one of the first-class carriages was

open. An examination of that compartment, and of its neighbour,

disclosed a remarkable state of affairs.

The smoking carriage in which the short, red-faced man with the

black beard had been seen was now empty. Save for a half-smoked

cigar, there was no trace whatever of its recent occupant. The

door of this carriage was fastened. In the next compartment, to

which attention had been originally drawn, there was no sign either

of the gentleman with the astrakhan collar or of the young lady who

accompanied him. All three passengers had disappeared. On the

other hand, there was found upon the floor of this carriage--the

one in which the tall traveller and the lady had been--a young man

fashionably dressed and of elegant appearance. He lay with his

knees drawn up, and his head resting against the farther door, an

elbow upon either seat. A bullet had penetrated his heart and his

death must have been instantaneous. No one had seen such a man

enter the train, and no railway ticket was found in his pocket,

neither were there any markings upon his linen, nor papers nor

personal property which might help to identify him. Who he was,

whence he had come, and how he had met his end were each as great

a mystery as what had occurred to the three people who had started

an hour and a half before from Willesden in those two compartments.

I have said that there was no personal property which might

help to identify him, but it is true that there was one peculiarity

about this unknown young man which was much commented upon at the

time. In his pockets were found no fewer than six valuable gold

watches, three in the various pockets of his waist-coat, one in his

ticket-pocket, one in his breast-pocket, and one small one set

in a leather strap and fastened round his left wrist. The obvious

explanation that the man was a pickpocket, and that this was his

plunder, was discounted by the fact that all six were of American

make and of a type which is rare in England. Three of them bore

the mark of the Rochester Watchmaking Company; one was by Mason, of

Elmira; one was unmarked; and the small one, which was highly

jewelled and ornamented, was from Tiffany, of New York. The other

contents of his pocket consisted of an ivory knife with a corkscrew

by Rodgers, of Sheffield; a small, circular mirror, one inch in

diameter; a readmission slip to the Lyceum Theatre; a silver box

full of vesta matches, and a brown leather cigar-case containing

two cheroots--also two pounds fourteen shillings in money. It was

clear, then, that whatever motives may have led to his death,

robbery was not among them. As already mentioned, there were no

markings upon the man's linen, which appeared to be new, and no

tailor's name upon his coat. In appearance he was young, short,

smooth-cheeked, and delicately featured. One of his front teeth

was conspicuously stopped with gold.

On the discovery of the tragedy an examination was instantly

made of the tickets of all passengers, and the number of the

passengers themselves was counted. It was found that only three

tickets were unaccounted for, corresponding to the three travellers

who were missing. The express was then allowed to proceed, but a

new guard was sent with it, and John Palmer was detained as a

witness at Rugby. The carriage which included the two compartments

in question was uncoupled and side-tracked. Then, on the arrival

of Inspector Vane, of Scotland Yard, and of Mr. Henderson, a

detective in the service of the railway company, an exhaustive

inquiry was made into all the circumstances.

That crime had been committed was certain. The bullet, which

appeared to have come from a small pistol or revolver, had been

fired from some little distance, as there was no scorching of the

clothes. No weapon was found in the compartment (which finally

disposed of the theory of suicide), nor was there any sign of the

brown leather bag which the guard had seen in the hand of the tall

gentleman. A lady's parasol was found upon the rack, but no other

trace was to be seen of the travellers in either of the sections.

Apart from the crime, the question of how or why three

passengers (one of them a lady) could get out of the train, and one

other get in during the unbroken run between Willesden and Rugby,

was one which excited the utmost curiosity among the general

public, and gave rise to much speculation in the London Press.

John Palmer, the guard was able at the inquest to give some

evidence which threw a little light upon the matter. There was a

spot between Tring and Cheddington, according to his statement,

where, on account of some repairs to the line, the train had for a

few minutes slowed down to a pace not exceeding eight or ten miles

an hour. At that place it might be possible for a man, or even for

an exceptionally active woman, to have left the train without

serious injury. It was true that a gang of platelayers was there,

and that they had seen nothing, but it was their custom to stand in

the middle between the metals, and the open carriage door was upon

the far side, so that it was conceivable that someone might have

alighted unseen, as the darkness would by that time be drawing in.

A steep embankment would instantly screen anyone who sprang out

from the observation of the navvies.

The guard also deposed that there was a good deal of movement

upon the platform at Willesden Junction, and that though it was

certain that no one had either joined or left the train there, it

was still quite possible that some of the passengers might have

changed unseen from one compartment to another. It was by no means

uncommon for a gentleman to finish his cigar in a smoking carriage

and then to change to a clearer atmosphere. Supposing that the man

with the black beard had done so at Willesden (and the half-smoked

cigar upon the floor seemed to favour the supposition), he would

naturally go into the nearest section, which would bring him into

the company of the two other actors in this drama. Thus the first

stage of the affair might be surmised without any great breach of

probability. But what the second stage had been, or how the final

one had been arrived at, neither the guard nor the experienced

detective officers could suggest.

A careful examination of the line between Willesden and Rugby

resulted in one discovery which might or might not have a bearing

upon the tragedy. Near Tring, at the very place where the train

slowed down, there was found at the bottom of the embankment a

small pocket Testament, very shabby and worn. It was printed

by the Bible Society of London, and bore an inscription: "From

John to Alice. Jan. 13th, 1856," upon the fly-leaf. Underneath

was written: "James. July 4th, 1859," and beneath that again:

"Edward. Nov. 1st, 1869," all the entries being in the same

handwriting. This was the only clue, if it could be called a clue,

which the police obtained, and the coroner's verdict of "Murder by

a person or persons unknown" was the unsatisfactory ending of a

singular case. Advertisement, rewards, and inquiries proved

equally fruitless, and nothing could be found which was solid

enough to form the basis for a profitable investigation.

It would be a mistake, however, to suppose that no theories

were formed to account for the facts. On the contrary, the Press,

both in England and in America, teemed with suggestions and

suppositions, most of which were obviously absurd. The fact that

the watches were of American make, and some peculiarities in

connection with the gold stopping of his front tooth, appeared to

indicate that the deceased was a citizen of the United States,

though his linen, clothes and boots were undoubtedly of British

manufacture. It was surmised, by some, that he was concealed under

the seat, and that, being discovered, he was for some reason,

possibly because he had overheard their guilty secrets, put to

death by his fellow-passengers. When coupled with generalities as

to the ferocity and cunning of anarchical and other secret

societies, this theory sounded as plausible as any.

The fact that he should be without a ticket would be consistent

with the idea of concealment, and it was well known that women

played a prominent part in the Nihilistic propaganda. On the other

hand, it was clear, from the guard's statement, that the man must

have been hidden there BEFORE the others arrived, and how

unlikely the coincidence that conspirators should stray exactly

into the very compartment in which a spy was already concealed!

Besides, this explanation ignored the man in the smoking carriage,

and gave no reason at all for his simultaneous disappearance. The

police had little difficulty in showing that such a theory would

not cover the facts, but they were unprepared in the absence of

evidence to advance any alternative explanation.

There was a letter in the Daily Gazette, over the signature

of a well-known criminal investigator, which gave rise to

considerable discussion at the time. He had formed a

hypothesis which had at least ingenuity to recommend it, and I

cannot do better than append it in his own words.

"Whatever may be the truth," said he, "it must depend upon some

bizarre and rare combination of events, so we need have no

hesitation in postulating such events in our explanation. In the

absence of data we must abandon the analytic or scientific method

of investigation, and must approach it in the synthetic fashion.

In a word, instead of taking known events and deducing from them

what has occurred, we must build up a fanciful explanation if it

will only be consistent with known events. We can then test this

explanation by any fresh facts which may arise. If they all fit

into their places, the probability is that we are upon the right

track, and with each fresh fact this probability increases in a

geometrical progression until the evidence becomes final and


"Now, there is one most remarkable and suggestive fact which

has not met with the attention which it deserves. There is a local

train running through Harrow and King's Langley, which is timed in

such a way that the express must have overtaken it at or about the

period when it eased down its speed to eight miles an hour on

account of the repairs of the line. The two trains would at that

time be travelling in the same direction at a similar rate of speed

and upon parallel lines. It is within every one's experience how,

under such circumstances, the occupant of each carriage can see

very plainly the passengers in the other carriages opposite to him.

The lamps of the express had been lit at Willesden, so that each

compartment was brightly illuminated, and most visible to an

observer from outside.

"Now, the sequence of events as I reconstruct them would be

after this fashion. This young man with the abnormal number of

watches was alone in the carriage of the slow train. His ticket,

with his papers and gloves and other things, was, we will suppose,

on the seat beside him. He was probably an American, and also

probably a man of weak intellect. The excessive wearing of

jewellery is an early symptom in some forms of mania.

"As he sat watching the carriages of the express which were

(on account of the state of the line) going at the same pace as

himself, he suddenly saw some people in it whom he knew. We will

suppose for the sake of our theory that these people were a

woman whom he loved and a man whom he hated--and who in return

hated him. The young man was excitable and impulsive. He opened

the door of his carriage, stepped from the footboard of the local

train to the footboard of the express, opened the other door, and

made his way into the presence of these two people. The feat (on

the supposition that the trains were going at the same pace) is by

no means so perilous as it might appear.

"Having now got our young man, without his ticket, into the

carriage in which the elder man and the young woman are travelling,

it is not difficult to imagine that a violent scene ensued. It is

possible that the pair were also Americans, which is the more

probable as the man carried a weapon--an unusual thing in England.

If our supposition of incipient mania is correct, the young man is

likely to have assaulted the other. As the upshot of the quarrel

the elder man shot the intruder, and then made his escape from the

carriage, taking the young lady with him. We will suppose that all

this happened very rapidly, and that the train was still going at

so slow a pace that it was not difficult for them to leave it. A

woman might leave a train going at eight miles an hour. As a

matter of fact, we know that this woman DID do so.

"And now we have to fit in the man in the smoking carriage.

Presuming that we have, up to this point, reconstructed the tragedy

correctly, we shall find nothing in this other man to cause us to

reconsider our conclusions. According to my theory, this man saw

the young fellow cross from one train to the other, saw him open

the door, heard the pistol-shot, saw the two fugitives spring out

on to the line, realized that murder had been done, and sprang out

himself in pursuit. Why he has never been heard of since--whether

he met his own death in the pursuit, or whether, as is more likely,

he was made to realize that it was not a case for his

interference--is a detail which we have at present no means of

explaining. I acknowledge that there are some difficulties in the

way. At first sight, it might seem improbable that at such a

moment a murderer would burden himself in his flight with a brown

leather bag. My answer is that he was well aware that if the bag

were found his identity would be established. It was absolutely

necessary for him to take it with him. My theory stands or falls

upon one point, and I call upon the railway company to make strict

inquiry as to whether a ticket was found unclaimed in the local

train through Harrow and King's Langley upon the 18th of March. If

such a ticket were found my case is proved. If not, my theory may

still be the correct one, for it is conceivable either that he

travelled without a ticket or that his ticket was lost."

To this elaborate and plausible hypothesis the answer of the

police and of the company was, first, that no such ticket was

found; secondly, that the slow train would never run parallel to

the express; and, thirdly, that the local train had been stationary

in King's Langley Station when the express, going at fifty miles an

hour, had flashed past it. So perished the only satisfying

explanation, and five years have elapsed without supplying a new

one. Now, at last, there comes a statement which covers all the

facts, and which must be regarded as authentic. It took the shape

of a letter dated from New York, and addressed to the same criminal

investigator whose theory I have quoted. It is given here in

extenso, with the exception of the two opening paragraphs, which

are personal in their nature:

"You'll excuse me if I'm not very free with names. There's

less reason now than there was five years ago when mother was still

living. But for all that, I had rather cover up our tracks all I

can. But I owe you an explanation, for if your idea of it was

wrong, it was a mighty ingenious one all the same. I'll have to go

back a little so as you may understand all about it.

"My people came from Bucks, England, and emigrated to the

States in the early fifties. They settled in Rochester, in the

State of New York, where my father ran a large dry goods store.

There were only two sons: myself, James, and my brother, Edward.

I was ten years older than my brother, and after my father died I

sort of took the place of a father to him, as an elder brother

would. He was a bright, spirited boy, and just one of the most

beautiful creatures that ever lived. But there was always a soft

spot in him, and it was like mould in cheese, for it spread and

spread, and nothing that you could do would stop it. Mother saw it

just as clearly as I did, but she went on spoiling him all the

same, for he had such a way with him that you could refuse him

nothing. I did all I could to hold him in, and he hated me for my


"At last he fairly got his head, and nothing that we could do

would stop him. He got off into New York, and went rapidly

from bad to worse. At first he was only fast, and then he was

criminal; and then, at the end of a year or two, he was one of the

most notorious young crooks in the city. He had formed a

friendship with Sparrow MacCoy, who was at the head of his

profession as a bunco-steerer, green goodsman and general rascal.

They took to card-sharping, and frequented some of the best hotels

in New York. My brother was an excellent actor (he might have made

an honest name for himself if he had chosen), and he would take the

parts of a young Englishman of title, of a simple lad from the

West, or of a college undergraduate, whichever suited Sparrow

MacCoy's purpose. And then one day he dressed himself as a girl,

and he carried it off so well, and made himself such a valuable

decoy, that it was their favourite game afterwards. They had made

it right with Tammany and with the police, so it seemed as if

nothing could ever stop them, for those were in the days before the

Lexow Commission, and if you only had a pull, you could do pretty

nearly everything you wanted.

"And nothing would have stopped them if they had only stuck to

cards and New York, but they must needs come up Rochester way, and

forge a name upon a cheque. It was my brother that did it, though

everyone knew that it was under the influence of Sparrow MacCoy.

I bought up that cheque, and a pretty sum it cost me. Then I went

to my brother, laid it before him on the table, and swore to him

that I would prosecute if he did not clear out of the country. At

first he simply laughed. I could not prosecute, he said, without

breaking our mother's heart, and he knew that I would not do that.

I made him understand, however, that our mother's heart was being

broken in any case, and that I had set firm on the point that I

would rather see him in Rochester gaol than in a New York hotel.

So at last he gave in, and he made me a solemn promise that he

would see Sparrow MacCoy no more, that he would go to Europe, and

that he would turn his hand to any honest trade that I helped him

to get. I took him down right away to an old family friend, Joe

Willson, who is an exporter of American watches and clocks, and I

got him to give Edward an agency in London, with a small salary and

a 15 per cent commission on all business. His manner and

appearance were so good that he won the old man over at once,

and within a week he was sent off to London with a case full

of samples.

"It seemed to me that this business of the cheque had really

given my brother a fright, and that there was some chance of his

settling down into an honest line of life. My mother had spoken

with him, and what she said had touched him, for she had always

been the best of mothers to him and he had been the great sorrow of

her life. But I knew that this man Sparrow MacCoy had a great

influence over Edward and my chance of keeping the lad straight lay

in breaking the connection between them. I had a friend in the New

York detective force, and through him I kept a watch upon MacCoy.

When, within a fortnight of my brother's sailing, I heard that

MacCoy had taken a berth in the Etruria, I was as certain as if

he had told me that he was going over to England for the purpose of

coaxing Edward back again into the ways that he had left. In an

instant I had resolved to go also, and to pit my influence against

MacCoy's. I knew it was a losing fight, but I thought, and my

mother thought, that it was my duty. We passed the last night

together in prayer for my success, and she gave me her own

Testament that my father had given her on the day of their marriage

in the Old Country, so that I might always wear it next my heart.

"I was a fellow-traveller, on the steamship, with Sparrow

MacCoy, and at least I had the satisfaction of spoiling his little

game for the voyage. The very first night I went into the smoking-

room, and found him at the head of a card-table, with a half a

dozen young fellows who were carrying their full purses and their

empty skulls over to Europe. He was settling down for his harvest,

and a rich one it would have been. But I soon changed all that.

"`Gentlemen,' said I, `are you aware whom you are playing


"`What's that to you? You mind your own business!' said he,

with an oath.

"`Who is it, anyway?' asked one of the dudes.

"`He's Sparrow MacCoy, the most notorious card-sharper in the


"Up he jumped with a bottle in his hand, but he remembered

that he was under the flag of the effete Old Country, where

law and order run, and Tammany has no pull. Gaol and the gallows

wait for violence and murder, and there's no slipping out by the

back door on board an ocean liner.

"`Prove your words, you----!' said he.

"`I will!' said I. `If you will turn up your right shirt-

sleeve to the shoulder, I will either prove my words or I will eat


"He turned white and said not a word. You see, I knew

something of his ways, and I was aware of that part of the

mechanism which he and all such sharpers use consists of an elastic

down the arm with a clip just above the wrist. It is by means of

this clip that they withdraw from their hands the cards which they

do not want, while they substitute other cards from another hiding

place. I reckoned on it being there, and it was. He cursed me,

slunk out of the saloon, and was hardly seen again during the

voyage. For once, at any rate, I got level with Mister Sparrow


"But he soon had his revenge upon me, for when it came to

influencing my brother he outweighed me every time. Edward had

kept himself straight in London for the first few weeks, and had

done some business with his American watches, until this villain

came across his path once more. I did my best, but the best was

little enough. The next thing I heard there had been a scandal at

one of the Northumberland Avenue hotels: a traveller had been

fleeced of a large sum by two confederate card-sharpers, and the

matter was in the hands of Scotland Yard. The first I learned of

it was in the evening paper, and I was at once certain that my

brother and MacCoy were back at their old games. I hurried at once

to Edward's lodgings. They told me that he and a tall gentleman

(whom I recognized as MacCoy) had gone off together, and that he

had left the lodgings and taken his things with him. The landlady

had heard them give several directions to the cabman, ending with

Euston Station, and she had accidentally overheard the tall

gentleman saying something about Manchester. She believed that

that was their destination.

"A glance at the time-table showed me that the most likely

train was at five, though there was another at 4:35 which they

might have caught. I had only time to get the later one, but found

no sign of them either at the depot or in the train. They

must have gone on by the earlier one, so I determined to

follow them to Manchester and search for them in the hotels there.

One last appeal to my brother by all that he owed to my mother

might even now be the salvation of him. My nerves were overstrung,

and I lit a cigar to steady them. At that moment, just as the

train was moving off, the door of my compartment was flung open,

and there were MacCoy and my brother on the platform.

"They were both disguised, and with good reason, for they knew

that the London police were after them. MacCoy had a great

astrakhan collar drawn up, so that only his eyes and nose were

showing. My brother was dressed like a woman, with a black veil

half down his face, but of course it did not deceive me for an

instant, nor would it have done so even if I had not known that he

had often used such a dress before. I started up, and as I did so

MacCoy recognized me. He said something, the conductor slammed the

door, and they were shown into the next compartment. I tried to

stop the train so as to follow them, but the wheels were already

moving, and it was too late.

"When we stopped at Willesden, I instantly changed my carriage.

It appears that I was not seen to do so, which is not surprising,

as the station was crowded with people. MacCoy, of course, was

expecting me, and he had spent the time between Euston and

Willesden in saying all he could to harden my brother's heart and

set him against me. That is what I fancy, for I had never found

him so impossible to soften or to move. I tried this way and I

tried that; I pictured his future in an English gaol; I described

the sorrow of his mother when I came back with the news; I said

everything to touch his heart, but all to no purpose. He sat there

with a fixed sneer upon his handsome face, while every now and then

Sparrow MacCoy would throw in a taunt at me, or some word of

encouragement to hold my brother to his resolutions.

"`Why don't you run a Sunday-school?' he would say to me, and

then, in the same breath: `He thinks you have no will of your own.

He thinks you are just the baby brother and that he can lead you

where he likes. He's only just finding out that you are a man as

well as he.'

"It was those words of his which set me talking bitterly. We

had left Willesden, you understand, for all this took some time.

My temper got the better of me, and for the first time in my

life I let my brother see the rough side of me. Perhaps it would

have been better had I done so earlier and more often.

"`A man!' said I. `Well, I'm glad to have your friend's

assurance of it, for no one would suspect it to see you like a

boarding-school missy. I don't suppose in all this country there

is a more contemptible-looking creature than you are as you sit

there with that Dolly pinafore upon you.' He coloured up at that,

for he was a vain man, and he winced from ridicule.

"`It's only a dust-cloak,' said he, and he slipped it off.

`One has to throw the coppers off one's scent, and I had no other

way to do it.' He took his toque off with the veil attached, and

he put both it and the cloak into his brown bag. `Anyway, I don't

need to wear it until the conductor comes round,' said he.

"`Nor then, either,' said I, and taking the bag I slung it with

all my force out of the window. `Now,' said I, `you'll never make

a Mary Jane of yourself while I can help it. If nothing but that

disguise stands between you and a gaol, then to gaol you shall go.'

"That was the way to manage him. I felt my advantage at once.

His supple nature was one which yielded to roughness far more

readily than to entreaty. He flushed with shame, and his eyes

filled with tears. But MacCoy saw my advantage also, and was

determined that I should not pursue it.

"`He's my pard, and you shall not bully him,' he cried.

"`He's my brother, and you shall not ruin him,' said I. `I

believe a spell of prison is the very best way of keeping you

apart, and you shall have it, or it will be no fault of mine.'

"`Oh, you would squeal, would you?' he cried, and in an instant

he whipped out his revolver. I sprang for his hand, but saw that

I was too late, and jumped aside. At the same instant he fired,

and the bullet which would have struck me passed through the heart

of my unfortunate brother.

"He dropped without a groan upon the floor of the compartment,

and MacCoy and I, equally horrified, knelt at each side of him,

trying to bring back some signs of life. MacCoy still held the

loaded revolver in his hand, but his anger against me and my

resentment towards him had both for the moment been swallowed up in

this sudden tragedy. It was he who first realized the situation.

The train was for some reason going very slowly at the moment,

and he saw his opportunity for escape. In an instant he had the

door open, but I was as quick as he, and jumping upon him the two

of us fell off the footboard and rolled in each other's arms down

a steep embankment. At the bottom I struck my head against a

stone, and I remembered nothing more. When I came to myself I was

lying among some low bushes, not far from the railroad track, and

somebody was bathing my head with a wet handkerchief. It was

Sparrow MacCoy.

"`I guess I couldn't leave you,' said he. `I didn't want to

have the blood of two of you on my hands in one day. You loved

your brother, I've no doubt; but you didn't love him a cent more

than I loved him, though you'll say that I took a queer way to show

it. Anyhow, it seems a mighty empty world now that he is gone, and

I don't care a continental whether you give me over to the hangman

or not.'

"He had turned his ankle in the fall, and there we sat, he with

his useless foot, and I with my throbbing head, and we talked and

talked until gradually my bitterness began to soften and to turn

into something like sympathy. What was the use of revenging his

death upon a man who was as much stricken by that death as I was?

And then, as my wits gradually returned, I began to realize also

that I could do nothing against MacCoy which would not recoil upon

my mother and myself. How could we convict him without a full

account of my brother's career being made public--the very thing

which of all others we wished to avoid? It was really as much our

interest as his to cover the matter up, and from being an avenger

of crime I found myself changed to a conspirator against Justice.

The place in which we found ourselves was one of those pheasant

preserves which are so common in the Old Country, and as we groped

our way through it I found myself consulting the slayer of my

brother as to how far it would be possible to hush it up.

"I soon realized from what he said that unless there were some

papers of which we knew nothing in my brother's pockets, there was

really no possible means by which the police could identify him or

learn how he had got there. His ticket was in MacCoy's pocket, and

so was the ticket for some baggage which they had left at the

depot. Like most Americans, he had found it cheaper and easier to

buy an outfit in London than to bring one from New York, so

that all his linen and clothes were new and unmarked. The bag,

containing the dust-cloak, which I had thrown out of the window,

may have fallen among some bramble patch where it is still

concealed, or may have been carried off by some tramp, or may have

come into the possession of the police, who kept the incident to

themselves. Anyhow, I have seen nothing about it in the London

papers. As to the watches, they were a selection from those which

had been intrusted to him for business purposes. It may have been

for the same business purposes that he was taking them to

Manchester, but--well, it's too late to enter into that.

"I don't blame the police for being at fault. I don't see how

it could have been otherwise. There was just one little clue that

they might have followed up, but it was a small one. I mean that

small, circular mirror which was found in my brother's pocket. It

isn't a very common thing for a young man to carry about with him,

is it? But a gambler might have told you what such a mirror may

mean to a card-sharper. If you sit back a little from the table,

and lay the mirror, face upwards, upon your lap, you can see, as

you deal, every card that you give to your adversary. It is not

hard to say whether you see a man or raise him when you know his

cards as well as your own. It was as much a part of a sharper's

outfit as the elastic clip upon Sparrow MacCoy's arm. Taking that,

in connection with the recent frauds at the hotels, the police

might have got hold of one end of the string.

"I don't think there is much more for me to explain. We got to

a village called Amersham that night in the character of two

gentlemen upon a walking tour, and afterwards we made our way

quietly to London, whence MacCoy went on to Cairo and I returned to

New York. My mother died six months afterwards, and I am glad to

say that to the day of her death she never knew what happened. She

was always under the delusion that Edward was earning an honest

living in London, and I never had the heart to tell her the truth.

He never wrote; but, then, he never did write at any time, so that

made no difference. His name was the last upon her lips.

"There's just one other thing that I have to ask you, sir, and

I should take it as a kind return for all this explanation, if you

could do it for me. You remember that Testament that was

picked up. I always carried it in my inside pocket, and it

must have come out in my fall. I value it very highly, for it was

the family book with my birth and my brother's marked by my father

in the beginning of it. I wish you would apply at the proper place

and have it sent to me. It can be of no possible value to anyone

else. If you address it to X, Bassano's Library, Broadway, New

York, it is sure to come to hand."